AuthorMattson, Sandra Leah, 1951-
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractChildrens' spatial ability has been studied from developmental and differential psychology orientations and by information-processing theorists. No unified means of examining spatial ability has been attempted by investigators. The focus of this research is thus based on the integration of developmental predictions with a processing model created to generate and test hypotheses regarding certain spatial competencies of young children. Of primary interest was how young children perform depending on the dimensionality of the spatial materials utilized in the experimental task. One hundred and sixty 4 and 6 year old children were randomly selected for one of four treatment conditions with age and sex distributed equally in each condition. Spatial materials were presented in either two or three dimensions and subjects were required to judge whether a response item also presented in two or three dimensions matched the stimulus display. Across-versus within-dimensional performance was therefore compared in a single study. Five displays were presented ranging in difficulty from simple to complex. Response materials consisted of a correct match on the stimulus item and four error types. Types of errors included a geometric violation (in which the objects in the display were unconnected at one point), a depth violation (lack of the depth dimension), a 90° or 270° rotation violation and a 180° violation. These last two violations were considered orientation errors similar to those children exhibit on perspective-taking tasks. Three separate analyses of variance were performed on the data. Results from each of these analyses indicated that six year old children significantly outperformed four year olds in all conditions. However, of importance to developmental psychology was the finding that all subjects performed as well as they did on a task thought to be quite difficult. Also reiterated in these analyses was the result that within-dimensional performance was significantly better than across-dimensional ability for all subjects. Analysis of display complexity revealed that there was differential success for the subjects based on the complexity of the display. Errors analysis indicated that the rotation and reflection foils created the most difficulty for subjects. This finding was reiterated in the Age X Foil Type interaction and Sex X Stimulus Dimension X Response Dimension X Foil Type interaction, in which four year olds' relative inability to perform on these errors as compared to six year olds was shown. This suggests that the ability to correctly discriminate orientation occurs late in the developmental sequence. While no main effect for sex was indicated by any of the analyses, there was an interesting finding as a result of the Sex X Stimulus Dimension X Response Dimension X Foil Type interaction. When across-dimension performance was examined, it was found that males made relatively more errors of an orientation type than females, exhibiting a possible lack of attention to the provided facilitative reference frame. Results were further discussed in terms of predictions from the hypothetical model and in regard to developmental issues. Limitations of the work were also discussed.
Degree ProgramGraduate College